Women's Religions in the Greco-Roman World: A SourceBook

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This is a substantially expanded and completely revised edition of a book originally published in 1988 as Maenads, Martyrs, Matrons, Monastics. The book is a collection of translations of primary texts relevant to women's religion in Western antiquity, from the fourth century BCE to the fifth century CE. The selections are taken from the plethora of ancient religions, including Judaism and Christianity, and are translated from the six major languages of the Greco-Roman world: Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, and Coptic. The texts are grouped thematically in six sections: Observances, Rituals, and Festivals; Researching Real Women: Documents to, from and by Women; Religious Office; New Religious Affiliation and Conversion; Holy, Pious, and Exemplary Women; and The Feminine Divine. Women's Religions in the Greco-Roman World provides a unique and invaluable resource for scholars of classical antiquity, early Christianity and Judaism, and women's religion more generally.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An invaluable collection"--Religious Studies Review

"An extremely useful book of texts in translation, providing a good introduction for students or other interested readers to primary sources of religion in the Greco-Roman world."--Women's Classical Caucus Newsletter

"Illuminates much that has been dark in studies of religion and women in the ancient world and does so with sure scholarship. I recommend this work highly to anyone interested in the intricate and challenging question of women and religion in Greco-Roman antiquity."--New England Classical Newsletter and Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195170658
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Pages: 520
  • Lexile: 1370L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Ross Shepard Kraemer is Professor of Religious Studies at Brown University. She is the author of Her Share of the Blessings: Women's Religions Among Pagans, Jews, and Christians in the Greco-Roman World and When Aseneth Met Joseph: A Late Antique Tale of the Biblical Patriarch and His Egyptian Wife, Reconsidered

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 Why women are compelled to worship Dionysos 12
2 The rites of the first Bacchic worshipers 13
3 Women worshipers of a Dionysian deity, Sabos 16
4 Rituals for brides and pregnant women in the worship of Artemis 17
5 Objects dedicated to Artemis Brauronia 18
6 Women participants at a festival of Adonis 18
7 Ritual regulations in a Dionysiac 20
8 Epitaph of alcmeonis, a priestess of Dionysos Henrichs 21
9 The establishment of Dionysiac rites in Magnesia 21
10 Ritual equipment for a women's festival in Hellenistic Egypt 22
11 Three excerpts from Ovid on the rites of Roman women 22
12 Women's rites of Dionysos in Greek cities 27
13 Women members of a monastic Jewish community outside Alexandria 28
14 (Jewish?) women in Alexandrian public life 32
15 The women's court of the Jerusalem temple 33
16 Excerpts from Plutarch on Greek and Roman women's religions 35
17 Excerpts from the travel writer Pausanias on Greek women's religions 39
18 The religious activities of Roman women as viewed by a skeptical satirist 43
19 Women (and men) in a procession to Isis 45
20 The deeds of the Saga Meroe 47
21 Photis reveals the nefarious deeds of her mistress, Pamphile 49
22 A grieving mother resurrects and interrogates the corpse of her son using "magic arts" 51
23 Callirhoe entreats Aphrodite at her shrines and temple 54
24 Festivals and sacrifices at the birth of Callirhoe's son 56
25 Prospective brides and grooms at a festival of Artemis of Ephesos 58
26 Anthia entreats Isis and Apis 59
27 Offerings and festivals for Helios at Rhodes 60
28 Anthia and Habrocomes, reunited, at the temple of Artemis in Ephesos 63
29 Leucippe takes refuge in a sanctuary of Artemis 63
30 Chloe and Daphnis worship the nymphs 64
31 Devotions at a private feast in a temple of Hermes 65
32 A woman whose acceptance of ascetic Christianity causes her husband to bring charges against her and her Christian teachers 65
33 A tour of hellish torments related by a murdered Christian woman raised from the dead by the Apostle Thomas 67
34 Admonitions against the participation of menstruating Christian women (and of men who have had a nocturnal emission) in the eucharist 72
35 Rabbinic purity regulations concerning menstruating and other blood flow 74
36 Rabbinic arguments against a misogynist tradition 78
37 Discussions between Matrona and Rabbi Jose ben Halafta 80
38 Arabian Christian women of Thracian descent who bake cakes to the Virgin Mary and function as priests 85
39 A heresiologist's attempts to refute the teachings of Christian women with regard to Mary and to disparage the rituals and religious offices of women 86
40 Why Christian women may not write books in their own names 93
41 Christian women in Antioch participating in Jewish festivals and attending synagogue 94
42 A Christian matron from Rome visiting the hermitic abbot Arsenius 96
43 Women monastics and women visitors at a Pachomian women's monastery in fourth-century C.E. Egypt 98
44 Women blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah (the new year) 100
45 Exempting women from the obligation to eat in the Sukkah during the Jewish festival of Sukkoth 100
46 Rabbinic discussions on the differences in rabbinic law between a man and a woman 103
47 Jewish women forcibly converted to Christianity (and a Christian woman visionary) on the Island of Minorca 110
48 Epitaph of women from Leontopolis, site of an alternative Jewish temple 121
49 Disposition of a lawsuit between a woman and a man living in Egypt, both called "Jews/Judeans" 123
50 A Jewish/Judean woman's attacks on a pregnant neighbor 124
51 The contract of a wet nurse, possibly Jewish/Judean 125
52 A divorce agreement from Egypt, perhaps Jewish/Judean 126
53 A woman, possibly Jewish/Judean, settling her share of a debt 127
54 Sale of a house between two women, the buyer perhaps Jewish/Judean 127
55 Jewish women enumerated in a tax document from Egypt 128
56 Manumission of a Jewish/Judean female slave 130
57 Epitaph of a woman cursed by spells 131
58 A woman seeking to attract the love of another woman with a spell 131
59 A woman imploring Oserapis to avenge her against her daughter's father 132
60 Royal women of Judea 133
61 Historians' reports about the Herodian princess Berenice, coruler with her brother, King Agrippa II, and lover of the Roman emperor Titus 138
62 Personal papers of Babatha of Maoza 143
63 The personal papers of Salome, also called Komaise 152
64 A divorce bill, possibly given by a (Jewish) woman, Shelamzion, to her husband, Eleazar 156
65 Women associated with the famous Christian teacher Origen, (ca. 185 to ca. 254 C.E.) 157
66 Burial inscriptions, vows, and donations of and by women in Asia Minor 159
67 Tablet in Greek to reunite a woman and a man using language reminiscent of Jewish scriptures in Greek 163
68 Ten inscriptions from a synagogue commemorating contributions from women for the paving of a mosaic floor lifshitz 165
69 A letter from the abbot Shenoute to Tachom, head of a convent in Egypt 165
70 Instruction for rearing a virgin Christian daughter 167
71 The life of Paula, leader in women's early monasticism 177
72 Discord between an ascetic mother and daughter, each of whom was living with a monk 204
73 The life of Marcella, a founder of women's ascetic enclaves 212
74 A consoling letter from the exiled John Chrysostom to his friend Olympias, seeking her political support 220
75 The life of Olympias, ascetic and supporter of John Chrysostom 227
76 The pilgrim Egeria visits the shrine of St. Thecla and the Deaconess Marthana 236
77 Epitaph of a Gnostic woman, Flavia Sophe 238
78 Epitaph of Euterpe, a Christian woman called Companion of the Muses 239
79 Donation by a Christian shipowner and her daughter 239
80 Honors and privileges bestowed on a priestess of Athena after a procession to Pythian Apollo 245
81 The institution of the vestal virgins 245
82 How vestal virgins are chosen 247
83 Honors for priestesses 248
84 Juliane, the first high priestess of Asia 250
85 Three women heads of synagogues 251
86 An unnamed woman head of a synagogue in ancient Cappadocia 252
87 Epitaph of a Jewish woman "leader" 253
88 Seven epitaphs of Jewish women elders 253
89 Three epitaphs of Jewish women possibly called "priestesses" 254
90 Two epitaphs of Christian women elders 256
91 Six inscriptions of (Christian) women deacons 257
92 Opposition to teaching and baptizing by women 259
93 A montanist visionary who submits her revelation to careful scrutiny 262
94 Hippolytus on the montanist prophets Maximilla and Priscilla 263
95 Women bishops, presbyters, and prophets among the followers of Quintilla and Priscilla 264
96 Fourth-century writers on the montanist prophets Maximilla and Priscilla 265
97 The epitaph of the female prophet Nanas 267
98 A woman philosopher(?), probably Christian 268
99 Regulations for deaconesses 268
100 Regulations for Christian widows 270
101 Regulations for deaconesses, virgins, widows, and other Christians during the worship service 277
102 The spread of the Bacchic rites to Rome in 186 B.C.E., attracting women and men to their frenzied observance 283
103 Helena, Queen of Adiabene, converts to Judaism 292
104 The Jewish proclivities of some non-Jewish women 296
105 Thecla of Iconium, an ascetic Christian and the prototypical convert 297
106 How the Egyptian virgin Aseneth becomes a devotee of the God of Israel and marries the patriarch Joseph 308
107 Two Roman women proselytes 327
108 Two women called "God-fearers" 328
109 The exemplary self-control and piety of a Jewish mother forced to watch the martyrdom of her seven sons 332
110 The spiritual inheritance of the daughters of job 340
111 Two juxtaposed narratives of the gullibility of pious women 343
112 The trial account of Carthaginian Christian women and men 346
113 The martyrdom of the Christian Blandina and three male companions in 177 C.E. 348
114 A first-person account of a Christian woman's persecution 356
115 The martyrdom of Potamiena in the early third century C.E. 368
116 Women martyred at Antioch under Diocletian in the early fourth century C.E. 369
117 Three epitaphs from fourth-century Rome 370
118 Charikleia, condemned as a poisoner, rescued by divine intervention 374
119 A letter written in the name of a woman to "Ignatius of Antioch" 375
120 A former prostitute becomes a Christian ascetic, taking on male disguise 377
121 An orphaned prostitute returns to the Christian asceticism of her youth 395
122 The endurance of two Syrian Christian monastic women 404
123 A Syrian monastic woman living in a hut in her mother's garden 405
124 Sayings attributed to ascetic desert monastic women 408
125 The principal version of the myth of Demeter 418
126 Two accounts of the origins of the worship of the Great Mother at Rome 427
127 Imagery of lactation and childbearing in a Christian ode 431
128 The female spirit of the Lord 432
129 A version of the myth of Isis 433
130 The experiences of a male initiate of Isis 438
131 The titles of the Goddess Isis 454
132 Aspects of female divinity in three Gnostic texts 458
133 The fall and deliverance of the soul, which is feminine 472
Index of names 479
Index of ancient sources 484
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